How to Keep Safe in Nairobi

Nairobi has a bad reputation regarding crime, but it’s visited often by tourists who are on their way to the safari parks or the beaches. Here are tips to minimize your chances of getting into trouble.


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    Most mid-price and upmarket accommodations in Nairobi are fenced with private guards (askari’s). Check if your preferred accommodation is one of them.
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    Most hotels have free safes – use them. Remember that the cleaning lady in your hotel may earn only 1 or 2 dollars a day.
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    Keep valuables and money out of sight. For money, tickets, passports and bank cards, use a money belt hidden under your clothes.
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    After dark (which is around 7 PM in Kenya), take taxis if you want to go out. During the day, you can safely take matatus (cheap private minibuses that stop for anybody raising their hand) but there have been cases of abductions of matatus at night. Criminals get in as passengers and once the door is closed, they pull a weapon. Taxis are always safe.
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    During the day, the biggest annoyance is conmen. Be sceptical of people approaching you with unlikely or tear-jerking stories, even if they can back it up with facts, documentation, etc. (they prepare well!) One popular technique is claiming to recognize you from somewhere and you are too polite to raise doubts. Another story involves them enrolling in a university in your hometown and at a certain point they’ll ask for money. Don’t pay anything, but politely end the conversation and walk away. If you want to help people in Kenya, better donate to a trusted organisation.


  • Ask local Kenyans what’s safe and what isn’t. They dislike criminals just like you, and are quick to help foreigners avoid bad neighbourhoods and situations.
  • Leave prejudices at home but take your common sense with you, keep your eyes open and trust your gut feeling about people and situations.
  • Be thoughtful about the situation you are about to enter: if you are being taken on a tour of the slums, remove all of your jewelry, including wedding bands, and keep all electronic devices out of sight, especially cameras. Do not offer the slightest temptation to these impoverished people.


  • Some people want to visit the big slums around Nairobi (i.e. Kibera or Mathare). This is possible only with at least one local guide who knows the slums and can guarantee your safety. Often this involves you buying something there. However, as a tourist you’ll see nothing of the slums unless you look it up.

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Categories: Africa